Alongside Transport Minister John Hayes, Clark has today (11 April) awarded £109.7m to 38 projects led by BMW, CNH Industrial, Ford Motor Company, Jaguar Land Rover, Penso Consulting, Westfield Sportscars and Williams Advanced Engineering. It is believed the project pipeline will safeguard 2,370 UK jobs.

“Low-carbon and driverless cars are the future and as a Government we are determined through the Industrial Strategy to build on our strengths and put the UK at the forefront of this revolution,” Clark said. “Investment in this technology is an integral part of this Government’s efforts, to ensure the UK auto sector remains competitive and world-leading.

“The projects being awarded funding today will help extend our excellence in these cutting-edge research fields, helping to safeguard jobs while ensuring the UK remains the go-to destination for automotive excellence.”

A total of seven projects, including the development of a fuelling system for a gas tractor, will share funds worth £62m from the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), while a further seven projects have secured £16.7m from the Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).

The Government has also announced the first set of winners for the second round of its connected autonomous vehicles competition (CAV2). A total of 24 project concepts have claimed a share of up to £31m, matched by funds from the industry. The Government will announce the third competition (CAV3) later this year.

The funding follows the pledges established in the Government’s Industrial Strategy, which included a Challenge Fund offering support for smart energy technologies, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). The Prime Minister confirmed that the Fund forms part of the £4.7bn R&D pot announced in the Autumn Budget – the biggest increase by any Parliament since 1979.

The Government has agreed to another commitment today, in the form of extended discounts towards public purchases of electric vehicles. People buying vehicles will continue to benefit from up to £4,500 in grants for ultra-low models, which falls to £2,500 for hybrids. Buyers can also receive £500 towards the installation of a charge point at their homes.

Arrested development

Ford’s involvement in the funding comes as it unveils an industry-first hybrid police car that will generate around $3,900 in fuel savings annually in New York and Los Angeles.

Ford has unveiled the Police Responder hybrid sedan model to New York and Los Angeles, which is projected to provide an EPA-estimated gas mileage of 38 miles per gallon – more than double the range of current Police Interceptors fitted with a 3.7 litre V6 engine.

The vehicle acts as the first hybrid sedan with full pursuit capabilities. A lithium-ion battery is used for speeds up to 60mph, while a 2.0 litre engine can be combined with the battery to provide extra acceleration for high-speed pursuits.

“Our mission to create safe and healthy communities in Los Angeles is achieved through sustainable approaches in community policing, and that includes embracing new technologies,” said Charlie Beck, Los Angeles Police Department Chief. “Patrol vehicles are a police officer’s office, and we expect them to not only be economically and environmentally efficient, but also an effective tool for fighting crime in major metropolitan areas.”

The vehicle is the latest instalment into Ford’s plan to plough $4.5bn into electric vehicle solutions and extensions through 2020, which includes 13 new electric or hybrid vehicle rollouts.

Matt Mace

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